The Need for Encouragement
I think one of the most difficult things for men to do is to encourage one another. Oh we can yell our support to players at an athletic event or choose our favorite fighter in combat but truly encouraging one another is not our forte. I think all men desire encouragement but on the other hand we aren’t really sure how to give it. I know I need it and I cherish it but often don’t find that the men in my circle of influence can provide it. Hebrews gives us clear direction when it says “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.” Satan continues to work long and hard to discourage men from being encouragers. Somehow we have been convinced that providing encouragement to another man challenges our manhood in some way.
I think one reason for our inability to encourage comes from our failure to grow and develop spiritually. Paul says “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” Too many of God’s men are sitting back and wanting to be spoon-fed instead of proactively seeking to grow and develop in their relationship with Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. Without maturing in our spiritual relationship we are easily deceived when it comes to the ploys of Satan to disguise his evil as something good. In fact, our society encourages us to kick our fellow man when he is down. We spend time tearing down others so we can feel better about ourselves. Satan convinces us to focus on our fellow man’s weaknesses and faults rather than their strengths and gifts that could be used to serve the Lord. We must develop a steady diet of God’s word, a daily dose of prayer, and regular opportunities to fellowship with men who lift us up rather than put us down in order for us to get off the milk diet and move to a diet of solid food.
In order for us to effectively encourage we must mature in our faith and relationship in order to become more Christ-like. Paul tells us “But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” The message I want you to take away from this passage is that as Christ-like encouragers we should utilize faith, hope, and love as the tools of our encouragement. The other critical component Paul gives us is that we are to be self-controlled. By exercising self-control and applying the tools of faith, hope, and love we can indeed encourage other men. Paul is not suggesting that we will “love” every man we come into contact with but we are to demonstrate Christ’s love to the world around us. When we desire to demonstrate Christ’s love it makes it incredibly easy to encourage our fellow man even when he really messes up. When we strive to emulate the Christ who saved us and lead our lives according to His purpose then we can provide the ultimate encouragement to others.
The Bible tells us “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Jesus could sympathize and even understand our weaknesses because He experienced the same temptations we experience. It is His understanding that gives us confidence we can receive the mercy and grace promised by our Heavenly Father. It is because of this mercy and grace extended to us that we have a responsibility to be God’s encourager to other men.
Are you ready to change your spiritual diet? Are you willing to wean from a diet of milk and mature to a diet of solid spiritual food? Will you become more Christ-like so that you can truly be an encourager to your fellow man? Men not only need encouragement but desperately need Christ-like encouragement. I hope you will accept the challenge to grow and mature in your daily walk with our Lord so that you can be an effective encourager to those around you.